Transport Action BC is concerned with the City’s decision to extend the Robson Street closure between Howe and Hornby Streets for an extended trial that is seems intended to become permanent. The closure has serious implications for transit users that must be considered.
The bus re-route around the closure is circuitous, particularly for those on Robson wishing to use the Canada Line or southbound buses on Granville Mall. TransLink schedules five to seven minutes travel time from Robson & Burrard to Pender & Granville. Transit users wishing to travel south then spend more time getting back to Robson Street. Thus, transit riders are penalised over ten minutes for every one-way trip compared to the direct route on Robson. Walking to Granville Street from Burrard & Robson is quicker for transit connections but this is unattractive for seniors or those with mobility aids, and even less attractive in the wetter, colder months. Additionally, the re-route forces an additional transfer on those who wish to board the Canada Line at City Centre Station.
The net effect of the closure from a transit customer’s perspective is highly unfavourable. Anyone with a choice between transit and driving will find driving relatively more direct and attractive while those without access to a car are taken needlessly out of their way and forced to make additional transfers.
Creating active, pedestrian plazas is laudable. However, it is ironic that in a city aiming to be “green”, the two streets chosen for long-term “activations” are major transit corridors. By routinely diverting transit from these streets the City is reducing the legibility, directness and overall attractiveness of transit. Meanwhile, no effort is spared in providing on-street parking on other streets where corner bulges and wider sidewalks could make permanent improvements in walking conditions throughout the city. Existing plazas, such as those at Robson Square, the Art Gallery and Main Library function far below their potential, presenting off-street opportunities for improving pedestrian amenities.
We suggest that the City take a more holistic view of its transportation priorities before making a final decision on permanently closing the 800 block of Robson to transit. Such considerations must also figure prominently in Viva Vancouver’s seasonal closures.
Buses will play a major role in Vancouver long into the future. It is time surface transit received more respect from City Hall.
Adapted from a letter Transport Action BC sent to Vancouver City Council
More on this topic on Price Tags blog. Circling the Square.
The long awaited bridge and paths linking the eastern end of downtown with the Rivers trail and the Valleyview are complete. See the bridge and trails on OpenStreetMap. The bridge and trail will do a lot for walking and cycling in Kamloops; linking parts of the city that have been disconnected for decades. The highway interchange (the Trans Canada and the Yellowhead Highway junction) and the Canadian Pacific mainline go through the area. There hasn’t been a safe way to walk between Valleyview and the central area of Kamloops until this new path opened.
Some people complained about the high cost of the trails and bridge, saying that the money would have been better spent building more parking spaces at the hospital. It certainly was expensive and did go over budget, but it was a difficult site with the railway and highway on-ramps in close proximity, and both had to remain open at all times. A lot of retaining walls had to be built to squeeze the trail in between the existing lanes. Poor decisions in the past when the interchanges was built led to this expensive solution today. Why didn’t they build a proper sidewalk at the time? That’s a good question, but I think the idea was that people should be forced into cars or the infrequent bus. Walkers and cyclists were just not thought important enough. We’ve come a long way since those dark days, but it is still an uphill battle to get proper and safe sidewalks, paths and bike lanes so that there are real alternatives to driving. I think Kamloopsians will grow to appreciate this important link on the eastern side of the city.
Coincident with the new bridge and paths is a new designated bike lane through central Kamloops. Aligning along Nicola and St Paul streets, which see less car traffic then nearby roads, it links the new bridge to the west (downtown). The north side of the bridge connects to the River’s Trail and an unpleasant sidewalk on the Yellowhead highway bridge towards Tk’emlups Band territory. The east link connects to on-road bike lanes on Valleyview Drive.
These links will certainly attract a lot of users once they discover it, but the bike route will soon frustrate commuter cyclists due to the number of stop signs and “Stop and Dismount” signs.
A lengthy article in The Vancouver Courier discusses the history of the Arbutus Corridor (aka CP Rail’s Marpole spur) since rail service was halted in 1999. Various interest groups and the City of Vancouver have abundant ideas on what to do with this large chunk of undeveloped land on Vancouver’s west side.
New York City has decided that the pedestrian plazas and traffic changes made to part of its Broadway corridor will become permanent. The changes have improved pedestrian safety, motor vehicle speeds and are well-liked by the public. The initial ‘temporary’ construction will be given a refurbishment pending a design competition. Final construction will start in 2012.
Will something similar happen to Granville Street in downtown Vancouver?